Archive for the ‘Children’ category

Halloween Costume Drive for Park Morton Children

September 13, 2017

Georgia Avenue Thrive has organized a costume drive for children living at Park Morton. Park Morton has 50+ kids and have a Halloween party scheduled at the Salvation Army at the end of October. Many of the kids do not have Halloween costumes so Georgia Avenue Thrive has undertaken a drive for new/gently used Halloween costumes for kids aged 1 to 12. See flyer below.

MPD Investigating Whether Officers Hit Boy and Left Scene

July 3, 2017

On the evening of June 30th, I was notified by neighbors living on 6th Street between Newton and Otis that at around 7:35 p.m. they heard a thud outside and a child scream. They indicated that it appeared to them that the police car had hit the child. Shortly thereafter, the offices left with the injured boy and his damaged bicycle still in the alley. According to the Washington Post, (read article here), this incident is currently being investigated.

Immediately after receiving the report of this incident, I reached out to Chief Newsham, Assistant Chief Greene, and the Fourth District Commander Manlapaz seeking answers. Both Chief Newsham and Commander Manlapaz responded quickly that they were aware of the incident and investigating it. I’ve since scheduled a meeting with Chief Newsham later this week at which I’ll be addressing this incident among my other public safety concerns.

Regardless of the details of the incident, one thing to me is quite clear … leaving the scene of the incident before an ambulance could arrive to make sure the 11-year old boy was alright is not acceptable. This is not the relationship that we should have between the community and those entrusted to ensure our public safety. Additionally, I think the incident highlights a symptom of a much larger problem — one made worse by the number of retirements and new hires that MPD is currently working through. Because of the attrition rate and efforts to hire new officers, I believe we currently have police offers who are disconnected from the communities they serve for a variety of reasons.

On a human level, no one who knew the community and those who live in it would have left a child in need sitting in an alley. This was demonstrated by the residents of 6th Street who took it upon themselves to ensure that an ambulance was called and made sure that everything would turn out alright. While they were doing the right thing as any neighbor would, to me they are heroes.

For my part, I’ll be seeking a resolution to this that ensures that MPD takes the appropriate corrective action and restores confidence that the incident currently being investigate never happens again.

Washington’s 1967 Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim Pools

April 26, 2017

In May 1967, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced that Washington would get 15 new swimming pools. The new pools would be 20-by-40-foot pools and were expected to be completed by July. The pools were designed to be shallow pools and to be located on playgrounds or community centers (including Park View), where they would be intended to be used by small children for wading and learning to swim.

The Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Park View Recreation Center.

Image of Watkins pool with leaked water — from the Washington Evening Star, July 16, 1967.

The total cost budgeted for the new swimming pools was $40,000. The first three — at Watkins Recreation Center, Barry Farm, and Deanwood — were completed and open by July 16. However, they were found to have a design flaw that caused water to flow out of the pools and onto the grass surrounding them. The worst conditions were at Barry Farm and Watkins. At Watkins, the water ran to the sidelines of the softball diamond. At Barry Farm, the water ran downhill onto a children’s play area and directly under a set of swings. Efforts were undertaken to correct the problems and adjust construction of the other twelve pools then being built.

The final six pools opened in mid-August, behind schedule. They were the pools at Wilson, Benning Stoddert, Parkside, Lincoln-Capper, Garrison, and North Michigan Park.

While the pools were considered a success, when children began to enter the pools after hours the recreation department adopted a process of emptying each pool on a nightly basis, with each pool holding between 14,000 and 35,000 gallons of water — a very wasteful and time consuming practice. It also meant that the pools were not filled or used at all in 1977 due to an area water crisis.

With the pools now reaching their 50th anniversary, I reviewed the sites of each pool and discovered that only four of the original 15 pools still exist. These are at Park View, Watkins, and Lincoln-Capper. The map below shows the location of all 15 pools, with existing pools in blue and pools no longer existing in red.

Reviewing the locations of the Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools also provides insight into the changing nature of playgrounds in the District of Columbia. For example, some pools have been replaced by aquatic centers (Barry Farm and Deanwood), some merely are gone while the playgrounds still exist, and in some cases the entire playground/recreation center no longer exists. An extreme example of the latter is with the old Garrison Playground which is nothing more than an empty field today.

(To the south of Garrison Elementary School is an empty field which was once the location of the Garrison Playground.)

It is difficult to tell what the future may hold for the remaining four Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools. While the ones at Park View, Happy Hollow, and Watkins still appear to be going strong, the playground around the old Lincoln-Capper pool is currently surrounded by work to upgrade the surrounding playground, presumably to partially accommodate the neighboring Van Ness school.

Below are photos of Watkins and Lincoln-Capper as they currently appear.

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Watkins.)

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Lincoln-Capper.)

Greater Petworth Fourth of July Celebration, 1916

July 3, 2015

A few months back I was lucky enough to purchase a series of 10 photographs documenting the Fourth of July parade in the Petworth area in 1916. I liked these photos for a number of reason, including the early date and the inclusion of a contingent from Princeton Heights. For those unfamiliar with local history, Princeton Heights is the area within the Park View neighborhood north of Princeton and south of Rock Creek Church Road.

I was able to find an accompanying article from the Washington Evening Star, and as the two photos that accompany the newspaper article match two of the photos in my collection, I presume that the photographer worked for the Star. You can read the full article here.

Below are three of the photos, and you can see all ten on Flickr here.

Princeton Heights(The Princeton Heights contingent on Randolph Street.)

Presidential candidates(A few of the many candidates in the 1916 presidential race: Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, and Wilson’s running mate v.p. candidate Thomas R. Marshall.)

Petworth float(The Petworth float, in the form of a navy vessel.)

Best Bird Houses in Columbia Heights (1921)

January 22, 2015

Wilson Normal bird houses

In revisiting the photo collections at the Library of Congress, I found the gem above. The photograph was taken on the afternoon of January 20, 1921, and shows a member from the American Forestry Association with children who were awarded blue ribbons for building  bird houses. The photo captures the event located on the western side of the Wilson Normal School. Today, the school is known as the Carlos Rosario public charter school and the location where the children are standing is part of the parking lot.

The construction of bird houses by the students was part of the week-long tree work exhibition at the Wilson Normal School which opened on Monday, January 17th, and ended on Friday, January 21st. While the exhibition had a large educational focus, the general public were encouraged to participate. In additional to the birdhouses and other pupil activities, the event included exhibits of trees, their diseases, insect destroyers, furniture of all kinds and essays on tree values.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the American Forestry Association was engaged in a nationwide referendum to determine what tree best represented America. Selecting the right tree was difficult. President Wilson weighed in during the survey stating that he was “quite unable to choose amongst the infinite variety and richness of American forests.”

The overwhelming result of the referendum among Washington school children was that the national tree should be the oak. D.C. children cast 7,004 votes for the oak – nearly twice as many as cast for the nearest competitor, the elm.

The entire vote breakdown in D.C. from school children in the 1921 American Forestry Association referendum follows:

  • Oak, 7,004;
  • Elm, 3,765;
  • Pine, 1,355;
  • Sugar maple, 1,392;
  • Apple, 1,145;
  • Hickory, 1,060;
  • Dogwood, 619;
  • Tulip, 328;
  • Walnut, 273;
  • Sycamore, 108; and,
  • Various others, 36.

Currently, the national tree of the United States is the Oak, which was chosen in 2004.

National Tree ballot

Hillcrest Children & Family Center Event Successfully Kicks of 200th Anniversary

January 16, 2015

Yesterday, January 15th, the Hillcrest Children & Family Center Kicked off a year of celebrating their 200th Anniversary. Hillcrest was originally called the Washington City Orphan Asylum and founded with the help of First Lady Dolly Madison. I was honored to MC the event which was held at the Octagon House. I’ve included a link to the video for anyone interested in watching the event.

Hillcrest video

Exhibition on History of Hilcrest Children & Family Center Kicks Off on Thursday

January 13, 2015

This year, the Hillcrest Children and Family Center will commemorate its 200th anniversary to celebrate the resilient and amazing impact over the years among people with mental illnesses, physical challenges, and life adversities. Originally founded as the Washington City Orphan Asylum, the name was changed to Hillcrest Children Center in 1927.

To celebrate their bicentennial, a kickoff press event is schedule for Thursday, January 15th, beginning at 11 a.m. which will open the Evolution of Hillcrest Center Exhibit. The exhibit unveiling and press event are free and open to the public. See the flyer below for details.

Hillcrest Bicentennial Kickoff Flyer 4


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